The governors of Pimlico School have narrowly voted to demolish the 1970 building and usher in plans by Ellis Williams Architects - the architect revealed by parent-governor chair Jack Straw as the winner of the long pfi process to redevelop the site.
The vote took place last Saturday at the London school and was carried by 10:8, in stark opposition to a vote by staff governors - they all voted to save the building. Parents followed suit last week, voting 155:9 against demolition.
Westminster City Council had ruled that the fact that the Ellis Williams consortium, called St George's Partnership, had triumphed over one containing Percy Thomas Partnership was confidential for commercial reasons. But Straw is said to have disclosed to non-teaching staff earlier last week that St George's had been chosen, before an official winner was due to be announced this week. Action group leader Michael Ball said Straw should step down from his role as chair of the parent governors for 'shamelessly revealing the secret vote of his fellow governors'. 'He has broken the contract of commercial confidentiality which all governors have had to sign during this process,' he said.
Parents, staff and local residents are to meet the district auditor, who will investigate allegations that the pfi scheme will not provide the best return on the local authority's resources. Another cause for concern is that the housing elements in each of the last two consortia were subsidiaries of the same company - Berkeley Homes. Residents are to mount a legal challenge on this point, since it does not comply with British or European legislation on competitive tendering.
John Bancroft, the original architect of the building, has drawn up an alternative scheme to refurbish the building. He told the aj: 'I feel optimistic that in the end we're probably going to win. I have a quiet confidence and feel that this is just a hiccup on the way.'
Ellis Williams' project architect on the Pimlico School scheme, Sarah Williams, left the practice last Friday.
Culture secretary Chris Smith has unveiled a £20 million high-tech nerve centre for travel firm Thomas Cook. The domed Global Service Centre in Peterborough, offering travel, financial and emergency help in 30 languages, was designed by Morgan Lovell with WaM. It includes an internet cafe and a central it core, and has a training area in the dome.